Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Making another kind of red lip salve

In yesterday's post I talked about a recipe for lip salve that used Alkanet root as pigment. Here is the result;

Updated recipe
Almond oil, 22 ml
Coconut butter, 6 gram
Bees wax, 2 gram
Alkanet root (in powder), 3 ml
Rosewood oil, 3 drops Note: A bit late it has come to my attention that Brazilian Rosewood is an endangered species, so my recommendation is to leave the salve unscented or add a few drops of another scented oil.

The recipe was very quick to make, stirring first on low heat until everything had melted and then I stirred a bit longer until the salve begun to thicken, then I scooped it over in small jars. The original recipe states " a little" of the Alkanet root, which leaves the amount very much up to individual taste. I started out with 1 ml and then added more until I thought the colour was deep enough.

Here you can see how the colour got darker the more pigment I added, though it still remained quite sheer. I compared it with the lip salve I made with Iron oxide and though it's a bit hard to see, the Iron oxide it much warmer in tone, while the Alkanet root reminded me of blackberry jam.

There is also a huge difference in texture. The Iron oxide salve is more opaque (if still sheerer than modern lipsticks) and is also matte. I have also found that the colour is buildable if you want a deeper tone. The Alkanet root salve is very sheer and glossy, looking and behaving very much like modern lip gloss.

After blotting, the shine and most of the colour went, leaving the lips with a very natural rosy shade.

What I would do different
Nothing, the recipe works very well. However, it would be interesting to make the more opaque salve with myrrh to see how the Alkanet root behaves. And vice versa, how Iron oxide looks in this sheerer formula.

Would I do it again?
Yes, I think so. The salve is very pleasant to use, I have now worn the blotted residue for several hours and my lips feels very soft and supple. It also gives a very nice natural colour, which I think is great if you don't want a painted look. You will need to reapply it regularly though, as eating and drinking makes it wore of very quickly.

I have managed to lure a couple of friends to have their makeup done next Saturday and I think it will be very interesting to see how people with different colorings will look.


  1. Dear Isis,
    Once again, fascinating report!!!! I personally prefer the look of this salve, and want to try it. Can't wait to hear about the makeup session. You will let us know, pretty please?

    Only concern: is rosewood endangered? If it's the tree, I know it grows on that big island off of East Africa, and they are having trouble with deforestation. Am always worried about such things...but am not knowledgeable.

    Very best,


  2. I like the colour, but wouldn't mind if it covered a bit better. But then, that is a very personal opinion. And this is one of the big reasons to why I love doing these experiments, to see how recipes really behaved. This salve would always be sheer by nature, no matter how much pigment you put in it and indeed- many portrait shows rosy mouths that don't look overly painted. I think this salve would be prefect for that look. If you try it, I hope you will let me know!

    Yes, you are right, it IS endagered. I don't know how I managed to miss that before. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, it is important to me too and I would never have brought my bottle if I had known. Now I feel stupid... I will need to go back and edit my posts and point it out. It is added for scent, so you can as well leave it unscented or add a few drops of something else.

  3. Interesting... I just posted about a similar recipe at http://gibsonglamor.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/edwardian-lip-balm-or-lip-gloss-made-at.html

    I too wish it covered a bit better though in my case I find if it's applied rather heavily it can still add noticeable tint.

  4. Also -- just a personal guess, but from what I understand about spermaceti it was actually a bit thicker than coconut oil, which will liquify at pretty low temperatures. The original might have covered a little better due to being less melty. I have heard jojoba wax (not oil) suggested.... there is also a synthetic substance specifically designed to replace spermaceti, called Cetyl Esters Wax, which might be worth investigating.

    1. I used coconut butter, not oil, so it's not runny at room tempereature. It has a significantly lower melting point than Spermaceti, though. :) Jojoba esters are very similar to Spermaceti chemically speaking, so wax would work well I'm sure. I do have a source for Cetyl Esters Wax, but as this was the test run I went with the cheaper and easily obtainable cocnut butter. I'd like to test the Cetyl wax eventually.


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